Alumnae Stories

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Wendy McAfee Casker '83


I am attaching this photo from my office at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD.  I have spent 30 years working as an engineer, and I am very excited to be standing in front of an image of the Parker Solar Probe Satellite. I led the electronics manufacturing team through the builds of the hardware for the satellite which will make the closest approach to the sun (of any man-made object)  on Monday, November 5, 2018. The glories of science will be upon us soon :)  My husband and I have been married for 26 years, and we have 2 grown children. We moved to Maryland in 2009.

I graduated from NDA in 1983, and I am proud to be an alumna.  I still remember my days learning math, physics, French, English, Etymology, and religion at NDA.  Please know that my NDA education has taken me far into a wonderful career, and I have lifelong friends, as well.

Wishing you all a happy day!


Best Regards,

Wendy McAfee Casker

Melissa Rausch '96

Melissa Rausch '96 is the Women's Lacrosse Coach, and Assistant Men's Lacrosee Coach at Nichols College.

Melissa Rausch '96, has a unique career. She is a female, coaching a college men's team. Hear what inspires Melissa, and how Notre Dame Academy helped her to become the woman that she is today.

“I have been lucky enough in my career to have the confidence to never think something is not possible. I ask “Why and Why Not” all the time. Being one of the very few female college coaches on a men’s sideline in all of college sports is a great example of that. There was a job opening and instead of thinking, 'I can’t because I am a woman', I thought 'why no?' I have never let my gender define me, instead I have just become the best coach I can be and work as hard as I can in every opportunity I have. NDA instilled that thought process in me at such a young age, I don’t know if I have ever thought any other way. I try to instill that in all the student athletes I am lucky enough to come in contact with.”

Lynn Detarando Grden '85

Lynn Detarando Grden '85 shares her story of perseverance, strength, and the incredible support she received from her NDA family.

"I wanted to share my alumna story. At age 5, I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. My time at NDA was the best of my life, but a struggle. I was out sick all the time. Everyone worked hard to support me and help me graduate on time and with my class. I couldn’t participate well in gym class, but, Ms. Provost always made me feel included. In a nutshell, NDA gave me the tools I would need for the battle for my life. In my 20’s, I was listed for a double lung transplant. I struggled to survive until I was 48. At that time, I was near death. My miracle came, the morning after Mother’s Day. I was med- flighted to Cleveland Clinic for a double lung transplant. My faith, family, and friends kept me alive. I’m so grateful. I have a wonderful husband and son that were incredible.

     Without NDA, I wouldn’t have had the faith, courage, or confidence to survive. I would not have developed the confidence to know that I was deserving of a loving relationship. I was able to go to college, grad school and work for many years for a prestigious engineering firm in Boston. Many times, I’ve been told that my dreams were impossible to realize. Thanks to NDA, I am alive to keep pursuing my dreams. I do a lot of public speaking, sharing my story, and promoting organ donation. I am so grateful to my donor’s family and to everyone who has supported me for so long. I’m even happier to be able to now help others. Paying it forward is a total joy."